Motivating our kids through Role Models [Emulating Olympians]

Bells with Speed Skater Rebekah Bradford

A little something about me: as a kid I hated hiking. I hated skiing. All I wanted was to stay home and [for once] watch Saturday morning cartoons. Somehow that all changed. It has some to do with finding friends that would do these outdoor things with me. But a large part of it was role models.

I can remember the first Warren Miller movie I saw. In two hours skiing went from the thing-my-parents-made-me-do to something that was cool, inspiring, awesome. I was motivated to get better. I was inspired to push my comfort zone. Heck…I still am!

As I got older this continued. My parents sent me to numerous ski and sport camps, many coached by past Olympians and US ski team members. And really, it is only a good thing if our kids catch the spirit of the Olympics and the athletes: unity, teamwork, focus, hard work and as Michelle Obama says, “an unyielding commitment to excellence.”

Maybe I am just brain washing my kids to be active… Or maybe there is a more technical terms for this: like observational learning, “also known as social learning or modeling, is a form of learning in which people acquire new behavior by watching someone else perform that behavior.” My kids are and will be largely influenced by the people around them, whether I like it or not. And while I cannot control whom they emulate, I can control who they are exposed to [most of the time].

Helping them Along

I like these tips from Common Sense Media:

Limit screen time. Kids grow and thrive best through personal interaction. Spending time with them, playing, and reading are great ways to build a foundation to impart your values.

Find age-appropriate content. Kids ages 2-7 should be exposed to media featuring good role moles, racial and gender diversity, and no stereotypes.

Encourage positive socialization. Look for role models who impart positive social lessons, like sharing and being a good friend.

Respect differences. Encourage kids this age to accept and respect people who are different by exposing them to media that includes people of diverse backgrounds.

Marching Onwards

And so during these Olympic weeks, we are being a little more purposeful at exposing our kids to some pretty awesome athletes that we believe are pretty awesome role models as well. [Maybe this is a grand excuse to be inspired myself and watch more-than-usual amounts of TV :)]

If you missed this week’s interview with Rebekah Bradford, Olympic speed skater, go back and check it out! Yesterday we went to visit her team at the US Olympic training facility in Salt Lake. And we got to see some pretty fast skating. It was awesome. And while I am sure my 2-year-old didn’t get much out of the experience, my older kids got to see that Olympians are just normal people like us. And they have to work hard to achieve success. As for the rest of the time there? Well, they had fun racing each other on the indoor track  :).

[PS: It is nice and frigid in there too! If you are in SLC, well then, beat the heat. Stop on by! Just be respectful of the athletes who are training.]

For more articles on lessons we can learn from Olympians check out Outside Mom’s article, How to lose gracefully when you’re eight.


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